Transitions in Welfare Participation and Female Headship

39 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2003

See all articles by John M. Fitzgerald

John M. Fitzgerald

Bowdoin College

David Ribar

George Washington University - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: October 2003


This study uses data from the 1990, 1992, 1993 and 1996 panels of the Survey of Income and Program Participation to examine how welfare policies and local economic conditions contribute to women's transitions into and out of female headship and into and out of welfare participation. It also examines whether welfare participation is directly associated with longer spells of headship. The study employs a simultaneous hazards approach that accounts for unobserved heterogeneity in all of its transition models and for the endogeneity of welfare participation in its headship model. The estimation results indicate that welfare participation significantly reduces the chances of leaving female headship. The estimates also reveal that more generous welfare benefits contribute indirectly to headship by increasing the chances that mothers will enter welfare. More generous Earned Income Tax Credit benefits are associated with longer spells of headship, non-headship, welfare participation and nonparticipation. Other measures of welfare policies, including indicators for the adoption of welfare waivers and the implementation of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families programs, are generally not significantly associated with headship or welfare receipt. Better economic opportunities are estimated to increase headship but reduce welfare participation among unmarried mothers.

Keywords: welfare participation, female headship, hazard models

JEL Classification: I3, J1

Suggested Citation

Fitzgerald, John M. and Ribar, David C., Transitions in Welfare Participation and Female Headship (October 2003). Available at SSRN:

John M. Fitzgerald (Contact Author)

Bowdoin College ( email )

9700 College Station
Brunswick, ME 04011
United States
207-725-3593 (Phone)

David C. Ribar

George Washington University - Department of Economics ( email )

Monroe Hall, Suite 340
2115 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052 20052
United States
202-994-7608 (Phone)
202-994-6147 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

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